37th Ward candidate for alderman: Deondre’ Rutues
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The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 37th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. Deondre’ Rutues submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Deondre’ Rutues?
He’s running for: 37th Ward Alderman
His political/ civic background: First time seeking office.
His occupation: UPS Management – Supervisor
His education: MBA/ MA in I/O Psychology (Roosevelt University)
Twitter handle: @rutuesfor37th
Facebook page: Rutuesfor37th
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
Deondre’ Rutues: My top three priorities are safety, education and economics. With safety, I’m going to focus on building the relationship between police and community but also introduce self-policing strategies like Restorative Justice. With education, I’m going to work on establishing a community-based learning environment where my office creates seminars to teach the community about investing/saving, professional development and self-knowledge to name a few. I will also work to establish a trade school or skill-based learning institution to provide or enhance the skills of the community. With economics, I will work to bring small business development to the community and prioritize a greater corporate social responsibility for existing chains and franchises within the community.
Recent civic work
Please tell us what you have done in the last two years to serve the city, your neighborhood or a civic organization. Please be specific.
Deondre’ Rutues: In the last two years, I’ve created showcases for the community that helped raise funds for community beautification projects and brought awareness to local small businesses. An article published in the Austin Weekly about such showcases can be found online. I have marched with B.U.I.L.D. for anti-violence protests. I have been a mentor with College Mentoring Experience, an Austin-based mentor organization that helps children up to and through college. I’ve worked with the campaign for Richard Boykins’ re-election.
Chicago is on the hook for $42 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, which works out to $35,000 for every household. Those pensions, in the language of the Illinois Constitution, “shall not be diminished or impaired.” Should the state Constitution be amended to allow a reduction in pension benefits for current city employees or retirees? How about reducing pension benefits for new employees? Please explain.
Deondre’ Rutues: There should NOT, by any means, be an amendment to the Constitution because that could set precedence for more tinkering in the future. Take that option off the table completely. I’ve always been taught you pay what you owe. There has to be more digestible options sought out. A reduction in benefits for new employees is an option, as is an option for lump sum payment. Taking the pension off the table in favor of a more fiscally responsible system of economic sustainability is an option as well.
Of the following often proposed sources of new revenue for Chicago, which of the following do you favor, and why? A Chicago casino, legalized and taxed recreational marijuana, a LaSalle Street tax, a commuter tax, a property tax increase, a municipal sales tax increase, a real estate transfer tax increase, video gambling.
Deondre’ Rutues: I don’t want to see any more taxes that interfere with the quality of life for Chicago residents. We are by far the highest taxed state in the country and it is the reason why we are losing residents by the hundreds. I believe legalizing and taxing marijuana is a viable option. I also would prefer a video gambling tax over some of the other options listed. These options are the two that doesn’t interfere with quality of life. These are optional for residents to indulge in.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Deondre’ Rutues: I favor putting a higher tax on liquor and there should be higher taxes placed on condo/land developers.
Tax-increment financing districts are a primary economic development tool for Chicago. In a TIF district, taxes from the growth of property values are set aside for 23 years to be used to support public projects and private development. What changes do you favor, if any, in Chicago’s TIF program?
Deondre’ Rutues: TIFs need to go directly to the parts of the city hit hardest by economic disparity. For far too long these monies have been used as incentive for big business that come in and leech of the poor and deprived. There needs to be an emphasis on the greater good when spending TIF dollars. There needs to be more of a hard line stance taken towards businesses that utilize TIF funding to establish themselves in the city. If all we care about is making big business thrive then the TIF program needs to be eradicated.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Deondre’ Rutues: I am a man of integrity and I refuse to lower the standards of myself for a title. I am running for office to better my community, not prey on it. I will use transparent, open and honest policies that reflect my commitment to serving my community with the highest level of dignity possible. I will be judicial and prudent in any decision I make while in my role as Alderman.
The City of Chicago has entered into a federally monitored consent decree to overhaul the training and practices of the Chicago Police Department. Civil libertarians say it is long overdue, but others say it is unnecessary and could make it tougher for the police to do their job. What’s your view?
Deondre’ Rutues: Oversight is necessary in any profession. Power left unchecked becomes corrupt, much like it has been it the Chicago Police Department. If CPD did not allow such egregious acts of dishonesty among the rank and file then we wouldn’t be at this point. The decree is necessary only because the department made it so. Once CPD is found to be in compliance and can monitor itself then we can move forward without the decree.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Deondre’ Rutues: Chicago should stop shipping guns by train and truck. Those guns are too easily accessed by impoverished neighborhoods. There should also be follow-ups done periodically on guns retrieved by Chicago police.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Deondre’ Rutues: Charter schools should be a choice for neighborhoods. The community should be given the option to vote if they want charter schools as the choice to educate the community. There hasn’t been definitive evidence that charter schools are a better option over public schools and they seem to have the same issues outside of the CEO being paid more. The city has to stop throwing money at problems and actually try to get to root causes of the issues.
Should the Chicago Board of Education be solely appointed by the mayor, as is now the case? Or should Chicago switch to an elected school board or some hybrid?
Deondre’ Rutues: The school board should be election-based. The residents of Chicago should have the choice over who presides over education in the city. Giving the mayor that option can lead to picks based off relationship and not merit. The education system in Chicago has gotten worst and there is a greater need to do things differently because the future of this city depends on those educated within it.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Deondre’ Rutues: In relation to other communities in the city, there is “affordable housing”. The kind of housing that appears to be “cheaper” because of the demographic living in the ward. We also have a higher rate of slum lord and negative ownership within in the ward. In relation to the median income, there is NOT enough affordable housing. Many inside the ward spend at least 1/3 of their income on rent leaving the bare minimum for other expenses.
Chicago, by ordinance, is an official “welcoming city.” This means the Chicago police are generally prohibited from detaining undocumented immigrants on behalf of federal immigration authorities. What’s your position on this policy? What more — or less — should be done with respect to undocumented immigrants who live in Chicago?
Deondre’ Rutues: Any undocumented immigrant that lives in Chicago should be sought out and helped to become a naturalized citizen. It is in the best interest of the city to benefit from the inclusion of all citizens.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Deondre’ Rutues: The inspector general should have the power to review all dealings with City Council at his office’s discretion. There should be checks and balances at all levels of government. The city in its current state is a reflection of power left unchecked and needs prevention methods moving forward.
Would you employ, or have you employed, staff in your office who have outside jobs or contracts with entities that do business with the city? If so, please explain.
Deondre’ Rutues: I wouldn’t want conflicting interests inside of my administration. Too often that leaves the community at a loss for personal gain.
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Deondre’ Rutues: N/A